Friday, September 28, 2007

Progress Report

We went to the pediatrician this morning and learned that Ella is continuing to grow.

We don’t know how long she is now, but she has gained a pound in a month, so she is officially 11 lbs 4 oz. She also got 2 more vaccines. Sad times! Of course she cried, but once they were over she got her bottle and was fine. She fell asleep on the way home.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mr. Mom

It’s funny how things happen in life. The other night I came home from “a long day at the office” and walked in to find Joe sitting in the rocker feeding Ella. This is the typical image at the end of the day, so at first I didn’t think much of it. As I went into the kitchen to put away the stuff from my lunch, I turned and looked at Joe feeding Ella and burst into laughter. What a role reversal! Joe and I are pretty traditional…ok, so we’re VERY traditional. So the idea that we are living this non-traditional life is pretty funny to me. I never thought that my husband would be the one home with the kids while I went out and earned a living. It’s working out well and I am so proud of how well Joe has made the transition. He does a great job with Ella, besides the fact that when I come home Ella is wearing either a) her pajamas that I put her in the night before, or b) her Mets outfit (thanks Darla). If I were at home she’d have a cute outfit on every day! It’s no secret that I’d love to be home with her, playing, rocking, and kissing her chubby cheeks. But, Joe always says that we have to deal with where we are, not where we want to be. So for now, he will stay home with Ella while I work. When he graduates from law school all of that will change! Stay tuned.

Last night Ella and I were playing and she was doing her tummy time. She is getting a very strong neck! So while we’re playing, she starts to roll over. The next thing I know she’s on her back. I, of course, was so excited! Luckily I got the whole thing on video and it’s posted under Ella’s play time videos. There is also a video of her in her Mets outfit playing (under “Ella in her Mets outfit”). Isn’t she so cute!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Normal Everyday life with a Three month old

Another great weekend

My weekends are completely different than they used to be. Before Ella came along, Joe would spend his Saturday s either in the law library, or up in his man’s room reading. I would do the same thing every Saturday…wash the sheets, clean the kitchen, clean the bathroom, vacuum, and always have a load of laundry going. Now I am lucky if I get clean sheets on the bed. The bathroom is a disaster, I wash the dishes before I leave for work in the morning, and I don’t remember the last time I vacuumed (I’m embarrassed to say). This weekend I did get a lot done. I changed the sheets on our bed and Ella’s, I picked up the pile of clothes that had accumulated in our room, and I did several loads of laundry. I feel like we can at least walk around the house without stepping over a bunch of junk.

On Sunday we went out to lunch with a family from Maryland. They have a daughter with EB. It was great talking to them about their daughter and the family’s journey. Kristen is 6 years old and by looking at her you wouldn’t know that she has EB. Both she and her sister (EB free) are beautiful girls! Kristen showed me her hands and elbows where they get scratched up, but for the most part she looked like every other 6 year old. It was so comforting for us. The truth is we just don’t know what to expect. Time will tell how this decides to manifest itself in Ella. But it is comforting seeing a little girl living with EB and it doesn’t slow her down. She said that the main thing she does is stand in the back of the line at school so that other kids don’t step on her heels when she walks.

On another note, I’m having trouble figuring out how to calculate baby age. It all goes back to being pregnant. When people refer to pregnancy they always say that you’re pregnant for 9 months. Well, when you get pregnant you learn that its not really 9 months, its 40 weeks. But if there are 4 weeks in a month then you’re really pregnant for 10 months. So Ella was born on June 21, which makes her 13 weeks old. Going with the 4 weeks in one month theory, then she’d be 3 months and 1 week. But the 21st of September was last Friday, so that would really make her 3 months old right? So do I tell people she’s 3 months and 1 week, or just 3 months? I’m confused.

Ella officially outgrew her bassinet. It’s packed up and ready to be put back in the attic. Now she sleeps in her Pack N Plat at the end of our bed. I’m just not ready for her to sleep in her own room yet. Joe is downloading two new videos right now, so they should be viewale shortly in the "Ella Playtime Videos" soon.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Pastor Don Davidson's Words

You Must’ve Been a Beautiful Baby

"One of my favorite duties as a pastor is conducting Parent-Child Dedication services. And, at First Baptist, I get to do it almost every week!

Not to be confused with infant baptism, or “Christening”, this is a meaningful few moments at the altar where parents commit themselves to raising their child in a Christian home. Teaching Jesus’ ways, and modeling before that little one the way to follow Him. The baby won’t remember any of it, and will one day, when older, have to make her own commitment to the LORD. It doesn’t happen automatically, because God honors the free will that He gave us, but it is almost inevitable when those parents honor the vows made in that service. Just a few years later, down the aisle the child comes and into the baptistry – and I get to hold him again.
When I started my ministry over three decades ago, I only had these dedication services once a year (usually Mother’s Day). Parents with their babies would stretch across the front of the sanctuary and all repeat their promises in unison. I would introduce each one, of course, have one all-inclusive prayer and off to the nursery they would go.

But I didn’t enjoy it that much. Too many names to remember and too many opportunities to flub my lines. Plus, once one baby started crying it would be like dominoes falling – soon they’d all be screaming. It unnerved me.

About twenty years ago I saw James Flamming at First Baptist, Richmond (now a good friend), conducting a Parent-Child Dedication service as part of their televised worship service. He did them one at a time, and it was so tender and personal. And he spoke words over the baby – words of prophecy and hope. I sat there wondering why it had never occurred to me to do it that way.

During that same time in my life I happened to be attending a Sunday service (while on vacation) at Peachtree Presbyterian Church of Atlanta. Their great pastor, Frank Harrington, (now in Heaven) was having an infant baptismal service and he took the little child in his arms, held her up to God, and prayed before touching her head with drops of water.

I didn’t believe in that, theologically– but I wept the entire time he was doing it, so moved by all the faith and hope, plans and dreams there on display. I started doing it just like that (but without the water, of course), and have never gone back to the old “line up” approach.
So I get to hold the baby, speak scripture into little ears, and present him to his new family of faith at First Baptist Church. These children are animated, usually bright-eyed, and they almost never cry while I’m holding them. I think each baby is the most beautiful baby I have ever seen.

Yesterday was no exception – but what an exceptional moment it was! Joe and Katie Murray brought forward their little girl, Joella, to be presented to God. She’s the baby born this summer with a very rare skin disorder that made us fear we’d not get to keep her very long. And so we all prayed, Deacons ministered in every way imaginable and Bible Fellowship friends brought meals every night to the weary parents and sets of grandparents.

They see her as a special gift from God (as we all do now) and on Sunday they were powerfully and publicly giving her back to Him, for whatever His will might be in the future. It is possible to trust our good and loving heavenly Father – even with that which is most precious to us. You learn that, over time and through dark valleys.

Baby Joella and I were at a cook-out together on Saturday night, so we did a little “bonding” and practicing for the big event. We were both pretty confident about it on Sunday morning. And the service went off beautifully.

Later, during the choir music and Robin Huffman’s solo, Joella did break down and let out a wail or two. There are times when that is rather distracting to me and takes away from my worship experience – but not yesterday. A big smile came across my face as I realized how wonderful babies and life really are. Their arrival on the scene means that God has not yet given up on His world. That there is still some great thing to be done – and maybe this one will do it.

I almost leaned over (I was sitting beside the family) and volunteered to hold her again if that would help. But… it was time to preach.

And I’ve only got 2 hands."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ella's Special Day!

Well, today was Ella’s baby dedication at church (see a link to the pictures on the right-hand side), and despite some concern from Mom and Dad about how she would do up on the big, it all went well. She wore her beautiful satin pink dress that Gi Gi specially made for the occasion. I was paranoid that she was going to spit up all over it, so she had a bib on and was covered with a blanket until we got to church. She had her white Mary Jane socks on and her white bloomers with her initials (thanks to Judy and Jennifer). I might be biased but she looked absolutely adorable!

She got a good nap in before we got to church, so we were hopeful that would keep her in a pretty good mood. It didn’t work out as such. As soon as we arrived, our biggest fear of her screaming the entire time on stage looked certain to occur as the noise from all the people startled her into crying. She cried up until about 1 minute before we were supposed to go up on stage, then all of a sudden she stopped (God heard our prayers). She was perfect for the entire dedication. She just looked around and at one point even gave a big yawn. She let Pastor Don hold her without a fight and all through his prayer over our precious baby she was perfectly silent. Pastor Don handed her back over to Joe and we walked down to our seats. She gave us about 1 more minute of silence then the cries began once again. At that point we weren’t as worried. The main part was over and she did a wonderful job. Way to go Ella Bella!

Pastor Don does great at baby dedications, so we knew he would do great with ours too. At one point he asked us if having Ella has challenged our faith, to which we replied, “Oh yes!” During the dedication Joe and I committed to raising Ella in a home where she would learn the love of Christ and that we would teach her to walk in the ways of the Lord. He told Ella her life verse (John 10:10) and prayed over her.

Uncle Curby and Aunt Gina (and Ella’s 2 cousins-to-be) drove up from Charlottesville, VA to participate in the event. After church we went to Red Lobster for lunch. Joe and I did the switch-off routine where I would eat and he held Ella, then he would eat while I held her. It’s hard going out to eat because you don’t have all the baby gear that makes eating possible, like the swing, bouncy seat, etc. We made it through and when we got home we changed Ella’s clothes and she settled in for a long nap.

It was a great day! God is so good. He continues to bless our lives with precious Ella. God has used her little life so much in her 12 short weeks; I can’t wait to see what he has in store for the rest of her life.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens

Ella has never seen a rose or a kitten, but her 2 favorite things are: 1) sitting in her swing and 2) looking at herself in the mirror. In the swing she watches TV, waves her arms and talks to us. When she looks at herself in the mirror she smiles and talks to that cute baby looking back at her. I’ve tried a million times to get a picture of her looking at herself and smiling, but I always catch the tail end of the smile.

Ella has officially made the transition from 0-3 month clothes to 3-6 month clothes. She is getting to be such a big girl! Of course I had to go to Babies R Us and Target to make sure she has plenty of things to wear for the next 3 months. I made a big effort to get things other than pink, or clothes that have pink but also have another color. It’s hard! When you love pink as much as I do, having a little girl to dress in pink is a dream come true! I’ve already explained to Ella that pink is going to be her favorite color, but I still feel like I should at least give her the chance to see other colors. Unfortunately life consists of more colors than just “blush and bashful.” Now if I can just teach Joe to put her clothes on the right way. He tends to get confused and when I come home Ella's clothes are on backward.

Ella is also outgrowing her bassinet. During the night sometimes we will hear a thud when Ella is stretching out her arms and hits the side of the bassinet. And she often will wriggle herself all the way up to the top so that she can’t move her head. The problem is that I’m not ready to move her into her own room yet! I want her right next to me during the night. (I still check her all the time to make sure she’s breathing) We are discussing plan B, and right now I think we are going to move the pack n play into our bedroom.

We had a great weekend with the New Family Advocate from Debra, who visited us this past weekend. She was very helpful in answering our questions about how to handle Ella’s EB, especially once she starts to crawl, how to give her a bath, tips on improving our wrapping skills, and much more. We really appreciated her taking the time to come visit us.

On Sunday we went out to lunch with a family from church, the Moutray’s. They have a little girl named Charlotte who is 2 years old. The funniest thing was Charlotte would stand on a chair right next to Ella’s car seat and get an inch from Ella face to look at her. It was so cute! I don’t think Ella knew what was going on. She would look at Charlotte then look at me, then look back at Charlotte . Kids are funny.

It’s my 3rd week back at work and Joe’s 4th week back in school. We are getting into a routine. I go to work all day and come home, only to watch him walk right out the door to class. Finally at 10pm we are able to hang out and have family time. We just keep reminding ourselves that this is temporary and in a few short years he will be out of school and our lives will be semi-normal.

It's bedtime, but Ella just woke up from a long 3 1/2 hour nap, so I don't think she's going back to sleep anytime soon. Since I have to go to work tomorrow, Daddy gets to stay up and keep her occupied.


Friday, September 7, 2007

Sweet Melodies

Jenni Soto Benson, our great friend and Katie's maid of honor, is a professional singer. Any of you who have heard her perform can testify that she can sing with the best of them. She recorded a new music CD entitled, "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep," that includes beautiful lullabies and melodies.

Her desire is to bless families with her talented voice while also helping support Ella's medical costs not covered by our insurance and one of the best Epidermolysis Bullosa research organizations called the Debra Organization,

Debra has been instrumental in helping Katie and I learn about how best to care for Ella. Shortly after her birth, they recommended EB doctors, provided special medical supplies for her blisters, and showered us with encouragement. In fact, they are sending us a visitor this weekend from Kentucky to help us learn strategies for raising an EB child.

We have attached an order form on the right-hand side called, "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Order Form" for those interested in picking up a CD or two. If you have questions about the CD, please email Jenni at We thank you in advance for helping to defray Ella's medical costs that our insurance will not cover and a fantastic organization that is doing great work for families all over the United States.


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

September 16, 2007

This will be a very special day for Ella as it is the day she will formally be dedicated to God at our church, First Baptist Church of Alexandria here in Alexandria, VA. A baby dedication is a ceremony where parents formally and publically declare their dedication to raise their child in the way of the Lord Jesus Christ and profess that their child is a gift from above. We already believed from the day we learned Katie was expecting that Ella had been given to us as a gift from above and publically recognizing such will be a great event.

You all are invited to attend the ceremony if you are in town. It will be a lot of fun to see our Pastor Don introduce her to the entire congregation on the podium right where Katie and I professed our wedding vows (I bet her Momma will have her dressed all cute too!). It is scheduled for 9:30AM at First Baptist Church of Alexandria, 2932 King Street, Alexandria, VA.